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The most commonly used test for hypermobility is the ‘Beighton Scale’. However, doctors will also check other joints in your body, as well as consider things such as easy bruising and scarring. If you have other conditions related to hypermobility, they’ll look into these too.
Have you ever wondered why you’re so flexible? By doing a test for hypermobility you could soon discover that it’s the reason for your excessive bendiness.
Testing for hypermobility is easy and only takes a few minutes. It doesn’t hurt and you’ll have a possible diagnosis to look into further with your doctor.
So, let’s find out more about the test for hypermobility, how many points you need to be classed as hypermobile, and whether it’s a fair and accurate test.
How do you know if you have hypermobility?
The Beighton score is the test for hypermobility. It’s a simple 9-point test that you can do on yourself. While this will give you an idea as to whether you’re hypermobile or not, you will only get a diagnosis of hypermobility from a professional.
The Beighton test checks for hypermobility in the following joints:
- The base of each thumb
- Knuckles of the little fingers
A positive Beighton score differs depending on your age. The scoring is as follows:
- 4 out of 9 points and above is positive in adults who are 50 or over
- 5 out of 9 points and above is positive for adults who are under 50
- 6 out of 9 points and above for prepubescent children
It’s important to note that the scores above indicate that you have Generalized Joint Hypermobility (GJH). A doctor will use other criteria, as well as their expertize to determine if you have signs of Hypermobility Spectrum Disorder (HSD) or Hypermobility Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (hEDS).
This criteria includes:
- Unexplained bruising
- Frequent dislocations
- Frequent subluxations
- Soft tissue damage
- Chronic joint pain
- Joint damage
- Premature joint degeneration
- Digestive issues
- Bladder problems
What is the test for hypermobility?
To complete the Beighton score, do the following movements.
- Pinky fingers – Lay one hand flat on a hard surface. Lift the pinky finger upwards with your other hand as far as it will go. The aim is to move it more than 90 degrees. Then repeat the movement on the other hand. You get 1 point per finger.
- Thumbs – Hold one hand out and face it toward the ground. Use the other hand to pull the thumb towards the lower forearm. Next, do the same on the other hand. 1 point is scored per thumb if it touches the lower forearm.
- Elbows – Hold both arms out to the side and put your palms upwards. A bend of 10 degrees or more upwards scores 1 point. 1 point is scored per elbow.
- Knees – Stand upright and push your knees back as far as possible. An extension of 10 degrees or more scores 1 point. 1 point is scored per elbow.
- Spine – put your feet together and bend forwards and down without bending your knees. The aim is to touch the floor. If both palms touch the floor, you get 1 point.
How do you test for hypermobility in children?
Testing for hypermobility in children is more complicated than it is in adults. The majority of children are hypermobile and generally grow out of it.
However, if they don’t grow out of it or they have symptoms of hypermobility, such as skin issues, they can be tested for hypermobility. It’s also important to get a child checked for hypermobility if it’s in the family, as hypermobility is a genetic condition.
As of 2023, new diagnostic criteria for hypermobility in children was unveiled. As a result, kids with hypermobility now fall under 1 of 8 subtypes of hypermobility.
Is the test for hypermobility accurate?
The answer to this is both yes and no.
The Beighton score is accurate in testing for hypermobility in the 9 joints listed above. But, it has its limits.
For example, you might not be hypermobile in many of the joints the Beighton score assesses. You could be hypermobile in other joints instead, such as your neck, hips, and ankles.
Of course, a good doctor will check for hypermobility in your entire body. However, you know your body best, so if you think you’re hypermobile in joints other than those included on the Beighton score, let your doctor know.
This was the problem I have. My Beighton Score is just 3, so it’s not enough to diagnose hypermobility. But I saw a good geneticist that found hypermobility in my neck, fingers, toes, knees, and shoulders. As a result, I was diagnosed with HSD.
Is there a blood test for hypermobility?
No. There’s not currently a blood test for hypermobility.
Your doctor may mention doing bloods for hypermobility. But this is usually to rule other types of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome which can have hypermobility as a syndrome.
When it comes to GJH, HSD and hEDS, there is no blood test to confirm a diagnosis. However, scientists are working on determining the gene or genes that are responsible for hypermobility. When this is found, a blood test may be available in the future to diagnose GJH, HSD, and hEDS.
A recent study found that a mutation of the gene known as MIA3 could be responsible for hEDS. A Polish mother and daughter with hEDS were both found to have the gene mutation. The MIA3 gene plays a role in the secretion of collagen. People with hypermobility typically have poorer-quality collagen than people without the condition.
The Medical University of California also says they’ve identified a gene mutation that could be responsible for hEDS. However, they’ve not yet published their findings in full.
To be diagnosed with hypermobility, you need to test for the condition. At the moment, there’s no blood test available, so a series of movements, known as the Beighton score, are used instead. If you suspect you’re hypermobile, have a go at the test today to see how you fair.